Why such a Market ?
Although fanciers of canines and felines are well represented in Brussels, those interested in birds are less numerous. The bird-market of the Grand-Place dominates the field and is the first choice as a good source for all sorts of varieties. The prices here are generally better than at small, private shops. Those involved in the breeding of birds have a need for a wide variety of equipment, supplies and feed and this market offers a great selection of these things.
1997: Hamsters and little gangsters : a New Market
Over the course of years, the bird-market has evolved. In recent years, it has had to adapt to many changes. First, to stricter laws regarding the capture of birds with nets. Then, to the world as a whole, which adopted the regulations of the Convention of Washington, which protected endangered species. It is mostly the avifauna of the Western Hemisphere that was of greatest concern regarding decreasing numbers. The birds of Central and South America, especially, are brightly-colored and in high demand by purchasers. It is now possible again to obtain these birds, but mostly they now come from captive-bred stock and are banded with certified leg-rings. The higher prices of these birds has unfortunately made many of them out of reach of budget-minded amateur breeders.
Beginning in 1997 and continuing into this year, a certain laxity
in enforcing these protective regulations prevailed. Some animal
protection associations began to notice an illegal trade in imported
birds that paralled that of the market for hamsters, rabbits and mice.
This practice then became a target of the press and other media. The question
was: should this source of
exotic birds be completely surpressed, at the expense of unjustly penalizing serious amateur breeders? I assumed the duty of informing the Burgomaster François-Xavier de Donnéa of the motivations of the ornithophiles and their hope that they would not have to pay for the actions of the illegal operators. By doing this, I found an ally of importance in the person of our Minister-President Charles Picqué, who was cleverly able to develop with the Burgomaster of Brussels, their passion for animals. Our efforts were rewarded, as the authorities of Brussels have allowed the bird-market to continue, but they now regulate it strictly. Sales are permitted only at designated sites. Birds from legitimate sources only can be sold and they must be inspected by certified ornithological experts. These measures are indeed energetic, but are giving the market a much-needed new start and hopes for a continued existence.